At the year’s outset, acting upon inspiration from Daniel Negreanu, I made a list of 10 poker and poker blog goals that I wanted to achieve in 2014. As the year has come to a close, the time has come to look back and see how I did in terms of fulfilling those goals.
Before I get to examining each one, I’ll just say that I’m extremely happy I set concrete goals for myself this year; it was my first time doing so. They have acted as great carrots, dangling in front of me throughout the year and ensuring that I work hard towards achieving them rather than slack off or push forward aimlessly..
I highly recommend that everyone out there not only give themselves a list of goals to reach for each year, but also to make it public to your close friends, family, or via social media, which makes it far more likely that you’ll act on your goals rather than watch your list get covered with dust as the year drags on. Daniel put it best himself:
Declare your intentions and speak it out, shout it out, even yell it out till you believe it! Convince yourself you can do great things!
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) July 8, 2014
So, here goes:
In 2013, I published 83 posts. Wanting to increase this output by 20% was certainly an ambitious goal, as my time for working on this poker blog is certainly limited plus I simply don’t always have something great to write and publish for you guys. Realizing this in advance, I knew that a key element in trying to achieve this poker goal would be enlisting the help of our other Cardplayer Lifestyle Contributors. On the one hand, I stuck to my strategy and was fortunate enough to get 23 posts written by my contributors (vs. 14 in 2013) – so this is another chance to give them a shout out and thank them SO much for their help! On the other hand, I still fell short of the 100-post goal, ending up with a total of 84 (including this one). Then again, I’ve also written 10 other articles over the course of the year for other poker outlets (more on that later; see Goal #7). So, no. Goal #1 not accomplished, but I don’t consider this to be a complete failure by any means.
2. Hit 1,000 followers on Twitter and 300 fans on Facebook
You know how sometimes the gymnast or figure skater performs what looks to be a flawless routine, only to have the last judge not give the perfect score? Anyone who knows anything about social media knows that it’s easy as pie to buy Facebook fans and Twitter followers (or trade follow for follow), but that’s just not an approach I’m prepared to take. My overarching goal with this poker blog has always been to organically grow my audience, and that’s something that just has to be earned. Simply put, if people like my poker writing and are entertained by it, I hope that they’ll be kind enough to share my content with their own audiences via their social media channels. New eyes mean new potential fans and followers, or, in Twitterspeak, #rippleeffect.
I’m happy to have exceeded my Facebook fan goal by 50%, hitting 300 a few months ago and almost 350 at year’s end. As Borat would say: “Great Success”! With Twitter, however, “almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades”, so I unfortunately just missed out on 1,000 for the year.
Again, though, I can’t consider this to be a failure, considering that I started from 465 (Twitter) and 200 (Facebook), respectively, have been proactively working towards my goal numbers, and almost achieved them both.
While I will continue aiming to increase these numbers next year, I’ve realized that the quality and influence of followers and fans is far more important than one’s absolute number of fans. I’ve been fortunate enough to gain many new fans and followers on social media who’ve graciously interacted and engaged with me throughout the year, provided me with constructive and complimentary criticisms on my articles, and, of course, shared my blog posts. These include not only professional poker players, but also plenty of recreational players and poker fans like me, as well as a number of fellow poker writers, with whom I’ve built and cultivated excellent professional relationships. Plus, it’s not only to individuals – other poker media outlets have also forged ties with me, and for this I’m especially grateful.
3. Increase traffic to 6,000 monthly visitors
With an 2013 average monthly visitor count of 4,000, this probably takes the cake as my biggest achievement of 2014. When I put the number 6,000 out there 12 months ago, I didn’t actually think it would be possible to accomplish and practically felt as though I was setting myself up to fail. Again, much like on social media, it’s possible to buy traffic (via sponsored online ad campaigns and PPC [pay per click]), but that’s just not something I do. Every single visitor to my site has arrived organically, which, as any SEO specialist can tell you, is the best kind of Web traffic there is.
I’m still astounded by my record high, of 11,226 visitors in July, as “10,000+” is a number I’ve only fantasized about. May’s low of 3,567 visitors surely had something to do with the fact that I was on vacation in the States for a month, but I’m nonetheless still very thankful (again) to my Cardplayer Lifestyle Contributors for their help in ensuring a steady flow of new articles. Overall, I couldn’t be prouder to report a monthly average of 6,300+, a full 5% higher than something I considered to be almost impossible/out of reach at the start of the year. The beautiful green numbers in the image above speak for themselves. Thanks to all of you who’ve come to visit my site and have come back repeatedly. I’m truly flattered.
Albeit with time running out, just two weeks ago I finally did it! When setting this as a goal I wrote: “You can be sure that if and when it does, you’ll be hearing about it.” Indeed, 1,177 words later, you did.
5. Interview another WSOP Main Event Champion
Not just “any other” WSOP Main Event Champion either… the NEW WSOP Main Event Champion! If you haven’t yet seen my video Q&A interview with Martin Jacobson, be sure to check it out. Thank you again Martin for being so awesome!
6. Get linked to by PokerNews.com
As I explained when setting this goal:
This is one of those “holy grails” to me as a poker blogger.After 4+ years of writing about poker, a link from the world’s #1 poker news site still eludes me…. in order to be linked to by the best in the business, you’ve really got to earn it.
Back in August, when I penned the op-ed piece called There’s No Room for Politics in Poker, it ended up sparking a firestorm of debate about a very controversial issue within the poker community. Indeed, the issue became newsworthy enough to be covered by and linked to (with a shout out!) on Pokernews.com.
My mind blew when this happened, so I must mention it: Back in April I got pinged with an email informing me that Cardplayer Lifestyle got linked to by ESPN Poker (look at the third link in the Small Blinds section). As it was with regard to what I consider to be one of my most important articles of the year (about Women in Poker), I not only consider this a huge honor, but also am thrilled that the issue got additional exposure to a larger audience.
7. Have one article go viral on The Times of Israel
Whoops! This is one of those goals where I just have to say “man plans and G-d laughs”. At the end of last year, I had just been tapped to write a monthly article for the site’s then-new Start-Up section focusing on different aspects of Israel’s online gambling industry. As it happened, there was only one additional such-themed article I ended up writing, and it happened to get published that very day I had published my list of 10 goals.
While there were a number of factors that contributed to my not doing any further articles of that genre, there were a couple of silver linings to that cloud, as follows:
- With an “in” at the Times of Israel, I was able to publish The Case for Legal, Regulated Kosher Poker in Israel. While it didn’t go viral, I’m happy that my advocacy for sanctioned poker in the Holy Land was able to get some mainstream exposure.
- That I didn’t end up writing more for the Times of Israel meant I had additional time on my hands, which I was able to use to write for a number of great poker media outlets, including (but not limited to) All In Magazine and PokerStrategy.com. One piece I wrote for PokerStrategy got shared by none other than Phil Ivey, so at least SOMETHING I wrote away from this poker blog could be said to have gone viral.
So, all in all, I definitely feel like I scored a great goal here; it just turns out that I was aiming at the wrong net to start off.
8. Go on a poker vacation with my buddies
Everyone needs a break once in a while, and I had set a goal of taking a special one with my buddies on a poker trip. As I had expected, 2014 was plenty busy. People work. People have families. Coordinating a buddies’ poker vacation is certainly no simple matter. Compound that with the fact that my poker pals and I are Orthodox Jews who live in Israel (i.e., no poker on Shabbos or Holidays) and a poker trip (abroad, of course) is something that’s not typically “in the cards”, so to speak.
But then, the perfect potential window opened up towards the end of the year. See, I’m currently in the midst of a three-week break in between two jobs. Knowing I’d have this time for a few weeks now, I’ve been diligently campaigning among my friends that they join me. I even discovered a local Israeli branch of a travel company that specializes in arranging poker trips. Even one best bud to come along with me on a poker trip would be phenomenal. Alas, just because it’s the perfect timing for me to take a poker vacation doesn’t mean it is for my friends as well.
HOWEVER, I just so happen to have the best wife in the world and she is being awesome enough to let me seize the rare opportunity to go on a poker trip on my own! So, Prague, here I come!
So, while my travel dates are officially January 4-7, 2015, while I will be traveling alone, and while I won’t be going to THE Prague Poker Festival, I booked my vacation while it’s still 2014, I’m still going on a vacation, and I’ll sure as hell be having a little poker festival of my own in Prague. As far as I’m concerned, goal accomplished. …and of course, I’ll be sure to take Phil’s advice as well:
If you travel for poker, make sure to experience the cities that you’re playing in. You’ll regret not seeing what’s outside the casino.
— Phil Ivey (@philivey) August 8, 2014
9. Get followed by Daniel Negreanu on Twitter
At this point, I think I can safely challenge anyone out there to a Daniel Negreanu fanboy contest. He continues to inspire me and be one of my role models for a whole host of reasons. Most importantly though, it’s his desire to use poker as a vehicle to do good in the world that’s totally in sync with my outlook on and approach to the game.
Anyhow, re: my goal, this is something I proudly bear as a badge of honor:
Thank you Daniel, for everything.
10. Actually start writing my (first?) poker book
I hate to end off such a positive post on a negative note, but I have nobody to blame but myself for failing at this goal. Sure, I have every reason excuse imaginable and they’re all valid. After all, last year I found 1,000 words to explain why I don’t blog about poker more often. Nonetheless, I see my main failure here as not having worked towards this goal in the first place. If I made the public declaration that I’d start writing a poker book, I should’ve at least tried once or twice to block off a chunk of time and start the project (rather than do other poker writing). Oh well…
Beyond the shadow of a doubt, 2014 was my “best poker year ever”. While I didn’t accomplish all of my poker goals, I’m proud that the goals I set were bold and that I managed to get most of them checked off the list.
While it’s a critical part of the goal-oriented process to sit and reflect backwards, it’s just as important to keep on pushing forwards as well. So, thanks, as always, for reading what I had to say and stay tuned – the next post will list my top 10 poker and poker blog goals for 2015.